those teens busy
by Jody Reese
unsupervised teenage boys are to blame for much of todayís violence.
Many parents are working longer and longer hours, or just arenít good
guardians, leaving young men with plenty of time on their hands.
The most dangerous
times for these kids, and subsequently for their neighbors, are the four
hours between the end-of-day school bell and dinner time and the summer
months, when many of these kids are unsupervised for the whole day. Four
years ago, Hippo wrote a story about what teenagers do at these times.
It was a disturbing picture of teen life where many engaged in
destructive activities such as violence, smoking, sex, drug and alcohol
underscore the problem: A group of teens attacked a center city man with
a baseball bat. Youths broke into Central High School and caused $75,000
in damage. Others have been involved in fights at local 18-plus dance
clubs and still others have shot out car windows with BB guns and
Punishment is all well
and good but the best option is to keep these things from happening in
the first place. The first thing Manchester should do is restore the
cityís youth jobs program. Twenty years ago, hundreds of teens worked
for the Parks Department cutting grass, trimming bushes and digging
holes. That sort of work program was discontinued years ago. We should
bring it back using federal Weed and Seed money, a federal grant program
designed to deter drug crimes.
Manchester is lucky to
have a variety of summer and after-school programs for youth but many of
them are designed for pre-teens. Once teens reach 14, there are fewer
programs available that match their interests and desire to earn a
Night events, such as
club-like dances, would also be a good way to get teens out of the clubs
and into non-alcohol environments. However, to be popular, these events
must reflect what these kids like, not what parents like.
We donít need to coddle
these kids but we do need to recognize that they will get into trouble
if we don't find them things to do. I don't know about you, but I think
a teen work program would be a lot less expensive than the vandalism at
Central or the blown out windows. There is no guarantee that these types
of vandalism would cease, however it's less likely they would happen, if
for no other reason than the kids who might do it would be too tired
from a hard day of pulling weeds and staying up late dancing.